Friday, February 03, 2012I'm sure part of it has to be do with losing the last race I was working on under very disappointing circumstances, and the fact that the national political context is more discouraging than ever (conservative policies wreck the country and the electorate's political response is to move...right?), but it's been difficult to summon up the enthusiasm about politics that I usually do. Yes, yes, I know I do quite a bit of bitching and moaning on this blog, but that's mainly because I need to vent and my wife is sick of hearing about it. Hopefully it will get better as the 2012 cycle revs up locally. It really is a lot more fun to get involved in lower-level races than all that gargantuan national stuff. You can really see how your input makes a difference.
Having said that, there are three things on the internets from the last couple of days I think require some commentary.
First, with regards to the Komen kerfuffle, I think Twisty Faster really does have the last word on the topic. As usual.
Second, via Andrew Sullivan, the fantastically overrated Francis Fukuyama is trotting out the argument that America's governance problems stem from its democracy preceding bureaucratization, thus fostering a populism that cripples popular support for government. The first time I heard this claim I thought it had some prima facie validity, until one reflects that that the whatever speculative effects that early democratization might have had on American political developments, there are far more straightforward distinctions between the US and other wealthy democratic countries. Say, how about the combination of a constitution with an excessive number of veto points together with the legacy of regionally concentrated race-based chattel slavery? Does it seem possible that the "governance" problem that the US faces isn't some generic hostility to bureaucracy so much as that 1) elites in one large region of the country have a wonderful weapon with which to divide the plebs and to associate the welfare state with subsidies for the loathed "other", and 2) that regional hegemony allows them to block any and all left-wing reforms? The principal problem that America faces isn't that Americans are suspicious of government, it's that the ideological successors of John C. Calhoun are bent on fleecing the American middle class on behalf of their corporate masters, while their milquetoast opponents either are too corrupt or too clueless to stop them. Just a thought.
Finally, stories like this remind me of the old argument for property qualifications for voting. The idea was that you had to restrict the franchise to the self-employed because wage-earners would be to easily pressured to go along with their employers in politics - that wage-earners aren't truly independent. Now obviously I think that restricting voting rights on almost any grounds in repugnant, but I do think we need to do a much better job at making sure that the majority of us that are dependent on the goodwill of someone else to keep our jobs don't have to worry about our employers leveraging their position to influence our behavior outside of work. So for example, I don't answer the phone or respond to emails from work on the weekend or at night - cause I'm off duty, dammit. And y'know, unions.